JERUSALINO V. ARAOS, complainant, v. JUDGE ROSALINA L. LUNA-PISON, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
A Complaint1 was filed by Jerusalino V. Araos against Judge Rosalina Luna-Pison, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 107, for Graft and Corruption, Knowingly Rendering An Unjust Decision and Gross Ignorance of the Law.
Complainant is the accused in Criminal Case No. Q-91-26112 for Estafa as defined and penalized under Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code. He alleged that on
Complainant alleged that at the time of the filing of the
Information in Criminal Case No. Q-91-26112 on
Moreover, complainant claims that he did not employ deceit or misrepresentation when he entered into an agreement with the private offended party for the construction of the latters house. He further explained that the amount of P350,000.00 which was given to him by the private offended party was spent solely for the purchase of the required building materials.
Respondent Judge further states that complainant subsequently
challenged the two (2) adverse orders against him before the Court of Appeals
by way of a petition for certiorari
with application for preliminary injunction docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 43160.8
The petition was denied due course in a Resolution dated
Complainant then filed before this Court a petition for review on
certiorari, docketed as G.R. No.
Respondent Judge maintains that she decided the case with justice and equity being always the overriding consideration. She stressed that she had studied meticulously the case and that her decision was based on the facts and evidence presented and the law applicable to the offense charged.
The OCA recommended the dismissal of the complaint against respondent reasoning that the issues raised by complainant pertains to the respondent Judges exercise of judicial discretion, and that the alleged want of jurisdiction of respondent judge had already been settled by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, which upheld the jurisdiction of respondent judge over Criminal Case No. Q-91-26112.
The findings of the OCA are well taken. In administrative proceedings, complainants have the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in their complaints.13 In the absence of contrary evidence as in this case, what will prevail is the presumption that the respondent has regularly performed her duties.14cräläwvirtualibräry
xxx. The Rules, even in an administrative case, demand that, if the respondent judge should be disciplined for grave misconduct or any graver offense, the evidence against him should be competent and should be derived from direct knowledge. The Judiciary to which the respondent belongs demands no less. Before any of its members could be faulted, it should only be after due investigation and after the presentation of competent evidence, especially since the charge is penal in character.15cräläwvirtualibräry
In cases where the charges involved are misconduct in office, willful neglect, corruption, or incompetency, the general rules in regard to admissibility in evidence in criminal trials apply. In other words, the ground for the removal of a judicial officer should be established beyond reasonable doubt.16cräläwvirtualibräry
Misconduct is defined as any unlawful conduct on the part of a person concerned in the administration of justice prejudicial to the rights of parties or to the right determination of the cause.17 It generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose.18 To justify the taking of drastic disciplinary action, as is what is sought by complainant in this case, the law requires that the error or mistake must be gross or patent, malicious, deliberate or in bad faith.19cräläwvirtualibräry
For liability to attach for ignorance of the law, the assailed order, decision or actuation of the judge in the performance of official duties must not only be found to be erroneous but, most importantly, it must be established that he was moved by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other like motive.20 Similarly, a judge will be held administratively liable for rendering an unjust judgment one which is contrary to law or jurisprudence or is not supported by evidence when he acts in bad faith, malice, revenge or some other similar motive.21 In other words, in order to hold a judge liable for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that the judgment is and that it was made with a conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice.22 In fine, bad faith is the ground for liability in either or both offenses.23cräläwvirtualibräry
In the case at bar, the record is bereft of any showing of a
wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct on the part of respondent judge. As observed by the Court of Appeals in its
xxx. The painstaking analysis with which the respondent evaluated the evidence adduced by the prosecution and the well-reasoned conclusions arrived by her in the assailed resolution and order, cannot but negate any imputation of grave abuse of discretion on her part. Quite the contrary, both resolution and order unmistakably speak of the care and meticulousness with which the said respondent addressed the issues raised in the petitioners demurrer and motion for reconsideration.24cräläwvirtualibräry
Assuming for the nonce that respondent judge may have erred at all, the lapse would be a mere error of judgment. A judge may not be administratively charged for mere errors of judgment, in the absence of showing of any bad faith malice or corrupt purpose.25 Indeed, it is settled that judges cannot be held to account criminally, civilly or administratively for an erroneous decision rendered in good faith.26cräläwvirtualibräry
As held in Dionisio v. Escano,27 if a party is prejudiced by the orders of a judge, his remedy lies with the proper court for the proper judicial action and not with the Office of the Court Administrator by means of an administrative complaint. Divergence of opinion between a trial judge and a partys counsel is not proof of bias and partiality.28cräläwvirtualibräry
All told, the absence of any evidence showing that respondent Judge acted in bad faith, ill-will or malice reduces the charges against her into a mere indictment. We cannot, however, give credence to charges based on mere suspicion and speculation.29cräläwvirtualibräry
We will never tolerate or condone any conduct, act or omission that would violate the norm of public accountability or diminish the peoples faith in the judiciary.30 However, when an administrative charge against a Judge or court personnel holds no basis whatsoever in fact or in law, we will not hesitate to protect them against any groundless accusation that trifles with judicial processes.31 The Court will not shirk from its responsibility of imposing discipline upon all employees of the judiciary, but neither will it hesitate to shield them from unfounded suits that only serve to disrupt rather than promote the orderly administration of justice.32cräläwvirtualibräry
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the complaint against respondent Judge is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Puno, and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
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